There were hand painted signs and a lot of buzz in the Sacramento arena Thursday night, but once again the focus was not on the game. (Well, not at first, turns out Dallas and Sacramento played a really entertaining game that included some ridiculous shots.)
As rumors of a potential sale of the Kings franchise to Seattle swirl, the Kings players still have to go out and play games.
And that’s a challenge at times, the players admitted to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Especially for Kings Aaron Brooks (Seattle native) and Isaiah Thomas (Tacoma native and University of Washington graduate).
“It’s a lose-lose,” (Brooks) said. “Somebody’s gotta lose.”
A difficult spot.
“Yeah,” Brooks said. “Very difficult.”
Keith Smart is tasked with the near impossible job of keeping his team focused through this.
“It’s going to get there,” Smart said matter-of-factly of the distraction. “I’m going to have it from my side — my family, my kids, everything. We all are going to have it. But we have to, at a moment, block out everything and focus on the task at hand. As soon as we get away from the two hours of practice, hour of shootaround, two hours of game time, then we’re going to go back to reality. And reality is going to ask, ‘What are you hearing?’ and all those things there. We have to answer those questions from our friends, family and everyone because everyone will be a little concerned.
“What we’ll preach is, ‘Do what you need to do in that time frame, but as we get ourselves back into the environment where we have to practice, workout, stay on top of what it is that you’re supposed to be doing and we’ll deal with all that as it goes day by day.’ It’s definitely going to be a distraction. Obviously yesterday (when news of the potential sale first broke) was. But we’re pros. We’ve got to figure out a way how to separate the two and then get ready to play.”
That’s exactly what a coach should say and do.
And good luck with that.